Interiors: Downstairs Toilet Makeover!

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Let’s face it- what your downstairs loo looks like is probably way down on your ‘things to do’ household agenda- which is why it’s taken us 2 and a half years to pretty ours up. When we moved in and carried out extensive renovation work, we decided to add the downstairs toilet under the stairs, as there wasn’t one before. I’m so glad we did now, as toilet-training two toddlers would have proved tricky without it, what with legging it up and down the stairs every few minutes (believe me, this potty training malarkey is fresh in my mind having just ‘done’ child number 2!). It’s also handy if you never want to spend a penny in peace ever again, and have a small child hanging off your leg whilst simultaneously wiping your bum. As we weren’t sure what sort of look/colour scheme we would end up having throughout the house, we kept this toilet and the rest of the hallway plain white, and therefore a blank canvas. However, I have been sick of our boring hallway and loo for a while now, and having tackled most of the other rooms, it’s time to put a stamp on these areas!

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^^^This is how it looked before. It’s only now, seeing these pictures, that I realised how boring this little space was! We had a great little glass shelf, a heated towel rail salvaged from the old kitchen, and my nan’s really, really old vintage mirror that I inherited from her, but apart from that it’s dull, dull, dull.

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Enter: Orla Kiely! We chose her wallpaper ‘Linear Stem’ in yellow to perk up our toilet. At £52 a roll, it’s not cheap, but for such a small space we only needed the one, so I feel it was worth splashing out. I was worried that the bold pattern might prove to be too much for our little, lowly loo, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the positive change it’s made and how it really suits the room. We now just have to be careful when choosing hallway decor, so that one space doesn’t detract from, nor overpower the other. It was so hard to choose from her wallpapers, but I do love a bit of yellow, and I think it injects a bit of extra something into our house of predominantly white and grey! The little owl is from a house clearance place down the road, which I bought for £1. He has no beak, but I love him all the same!

What do you think? Honest opinions please! Do you have a quirky bathroom, or other small space that surprises people?!

 

Hooking up with Let’s Talk Mommy and ‘Share with me’

Autumn in Angel

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Ar the weekend, the four of us headed up from good old zone 5 to Islington, along with my Mum, to go and have lunch with my Bro, Sis-in-law, and my gorgeous new niece. Angel is one of my favourite parts of London- there are a ridiculous number of great eateries, shops, and an eclectic mix of old and new buildings. In a former life Angel was a favourite after-work haunt of mine, the perfect place to meet friends for drinks, and was a hop-skip-and-stumble to my old home in Camden. With my bro and fam living in Stoke Newington, it’s now the ideal halfway-house meeting place for a laid-back Sunday lunch.

We arrived in Angel with time to kill (I am nearly ALWAYS too early, wherever I go), so we let Freddie and Sasha stretch their legs on Islington Green for a while. I love watching them run around and play, and I also love taking photos of them in different spots in my favourite city- I’m hoping the kids will love to look at them when they’re older, and they’ll realise how lucky they are and how much we do/did with them!

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^^Freddie was in a right cheeky mood, and I love some of these snaps! He’s not always up for having his picture taken (S, on the other hand, is the complete opposite in this respect!), so I never push it with him, but on Sunday he was on fire, grinning at the camera like no tomorrow! We were fortunate enough to have been gifted his Pumpkin Patch dinosaur raincoat by the lovely House of Fraser, and I think these snaps showcase it perfectly!

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^^Freddie loves the dinosaur print, and the fact it’s lightly padded means it’s perfect for Autumn temperatures and potential October showers.113

^^Love my little chap to bits! We seemed to have turned a corner (fingers crossed!) from the ‘threenager’ behaviour exhibited of late, and both him and S were on their best behaviour over lunch and travelling :-)

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^^This little lady never has a problem posing for the camera! S was also gifted her Pumpkin Patch dungaree dress by House of Fraser.

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^^ Both children are big on Dandelion clocks at the moment (I kid you not- our weed-riddled front garden has tonnes of the things so they are a constant source of fascination right now!), and I think this print on the dungarees has a real autumnal feel.

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^^We ate at ‘Fig and Olive’ on Upper Street. I had a beautifully juicy house burger and fries, followed by lemon meringue pie *drool*. Adam had tenderloin beef fillet, then the chocolate torte, and F&S shared a delicious vegetable moussaka with chips on the side, followed by a piece of chocolate fudge cake-grubby faces ahoy! All 7 of us were raving over the food. I hadn’t eaten here before (I think my bro had), but would definitely return. It was so great to catch up with my family and have cuddles with my niece, it made us realise that we must factor in time to do this more often!

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^^On the way home we stopped at ‘After Noah’, also on Upper Street. Freddie had spotted a small toy lorry carrying logs (amazing, a vehicle we DON’T have!) on the way to the restaurant, and on the way back generous Granny agreed to go and have a look inside to see how much it was. Again, I hadn’t been in here before- it’s a brilliant place to pick up a gift for someone, as it sells a beautiful array of good-quality toys, cards, and gifts and books for adults. Fred’s luck was in, and one log-carrying-lorry left the shop (cheers mum!). Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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We left Angel in a great mood- perfect weather, perfect company and perfect food – and with two very tired tinkers, one of those being a super-happy-now-lorry-owning-little boy!

Thanks so much for House of Fraser for gifting us Freddie and Sasha’s beautiful jacket and dress!

 

30 Day Re-use & Recycle Wardrobe Challenge – Day 2 & 3

Day 2:

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Fine-knit black jumper – Primark, Eagle necklace – Topshop, Black leather jacket – Topshop, Acid wash skinny jeans – Topshop, Trainers – Superga

Day 3: 

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Tshirt – ASOS, necklace – H&M, Shorts – H&M, Tights – Sainsburys, Shoes – Topshop, Bag – H&M

Original rules and post HERE!

On ditching booze…

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Anyone who knows me well, will know that I have always liked a drink. Whether that’s a chilled wine, pint of cider, gin and tonic or a large Baileys at Christmas, booze has been an integral part of my life, and that of most of my friends since we were 14. What started with village hall parties (oi oi!) necking Lambrini and strawberry 20/20 (vom), graduated to alcopops and vodka & orange in generic Yates that accepted forged birth certificates as valid forms of ID (who were we kidding?!). Then came Uni, and with that the endless pub crawls, raves and house parties that took place over the 4 years I was there. Our shared house of 6 girls was notorious for some hardcore partying, and we regularly turned our empty basement into a dance floor, complete with decks and strobe light to enhance our ‘quiet’ nights in. Post-uni and living in Camden, it was all bustling pubs and gigs, ‘Pissed Tuesdays’ after work putting the world to rights with friends, and Friday night bevvies with colleagues, ‘unwinding’ from a hectic week working in The City. All of this interspersed with a plethora of boozy occasions, celebrating all manner of events occurring within our crowd- birthdays, promotions, break-ups, redundancies, the start of a new series of Mad Men etc etc. Holidays abroad with friends were one big binge, we needed a holiday to get over them. You get the picture- booze featured in almost every event going. I was having ‘fun’, there’s no doubt about that, but I was also unhealthy, felt like crap half the time, unmotivated and essentially not fulfilling my potential in any way, shape or form.

Adam had a calming influence, and when pregnancy and babies arrived on the scene, it was easy to stop for those 9 months each time. No one had any expectations of me socially, and whilst I had no trouble in laying off the vino, there was always the naive notion that once junior had arrived, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be back on the sauce, carrying on normal life (ha!) and keeping up with my child-free/care-free friends and our old lives. To a certain extent I have maintained a very good social life post-children. I still go out usually once a week with my friends, and Adam and I are lucky that we have fantastic grandparents that live locally to us, and who enable us to go out a fair bit together. Even if we haven’t been out and about, we have chums over to ours, and I in particular have still enjoyed getting stuck in to the Sauvignon Blanc. It’s always been a ritual since having the kids, that cliche of ‘wine o’clock’ once they are in bed, or earlier, if you’ve been having a particularly crap day. Friday and Saturday night are licence to drink more, even if it is just you, Simon and Chezza on the telly for company. You only have to glance at your Facebook feed to see other people doing the same. Parents or not parents, alcohol seems to feature heavily (well it apparently does with the people that I know!). Statuses shriek “Bad day already with kids- is it wine time yet?!” or “L has just puked all over me” cue responses of “pour yourself a large one tonight, hun!”.

Whilst I have certainly cut down hugely in comparison to my old days (thinking about what I used to drink makes me feel queezy now!), something is telling me alcohol is no longer agreeing with me, and is stopping me from feeling good and fulfilling things I want to do with my life. So why not just have a glass of wine a few nights a week? You may well ask. If you have never been a big drinker and are therefore probably fairly sensible when it comes to moderating, you may think all I’ve written above is rather odd, or if you enjoy a few tipples guilt-free, you don’t see why anyone would quit. Well, me, I’m just not very good at just having the one or two drinks once I’ve started. I am certainly no alcoholic, but I have tendencies to go slightly doolally on the wrong occasion once I’ve had a sniff on the white stuff (not THAT white stuff, you naughty people!). I might be able to have a few weeks of having one or two drinks at home, or when out for dinner, but inevitably as past history has shown, I will eventually get a bit over-excited, and embark on some sizeable quaffing, that will make feel like death and leave me with the mother of all hangovers. Sadly I am no longer my 17 year old self who can still spring in to action the night after a big night out- these days it takes me the best part of a week to get over it. SO impracticable as a parent of a ‘lively’ 2 and 3 year old.

On days when I’ve been hungover, I am literally counting the hours down until bedtime when the children will be asleep, and I am grumpy and snappy. This is ultimately not fair on them, and no way to live. Even one night of boozing a week will set me back. I want to focus on being a good Mum, working on my little business and this blog, maintain a fitness regime and look after myself. The latter is something I haven’t achieved since I was about 14, as despite having various gym memberships and forays to the boxing gym, my hangovers always got in the way of any real progress or ability to commit to a fitness event/run. I’m sure I could have done better at uni and in past careers, if I hadn’t had been so attached to the pub.

I had 3 months back in 2007 where I decided to swap the rose for water, and it did me the world of good, but after the 3 months was up I still slipped back into my old ways. It was always just a break, I was still counting down the days until I could sup on the sauce again. There was no real commitment to any long-term lifestyle shift.

Well that is about to change, for good this time (old friends of mine might be giving themselves a wry smile if they’re reading this!), as I am about to make a commitment I’ve never publicly said before:

I am going to quit booze for a year.

A WHOLE year.

And see what happens.

That means that any birthdays, holidays, weekends away, dinners out, hen dos (including mine!), MY WEDDING (gulp) and anything else that life throws my way will be conducted in a sober manner. I am sick of feeling jaded and firing on half-cylinders after any of the aforementioned events.

However, I don’t want this to be all doom and gloom. I want to learn to socialise and enjoy life again, without the crutch of the wine bottle (I am still going to be on that Karaoke machine, goddammit!).

I want to feel fresh and productive EVERY DAY, no longer clock-watching until bedtime. I want a fitter, healthier, more toned body (which, let’s face it, needs all the help it can get now I’m 30 and after 2 children!).

I want a sharper, clearer mind. I want to be a better, more thoughtful mother, daughter, partner, sister, friend, one who isn’t too hungover to text back, or think straight. I would like some hobbies again, to find new interests. The last course I embarked on was a French evening course at the local college several years ago, but I quit because it clashed with those ‘pissed Tuesdays’ too often (I am SO embarrassed to even write that now!).

I don’t want to worry about what took place the night before under the influence. Did I say something bad? Was I a twat? Trust me, the beer-fear doesn’t get better as you get older. Anxiety, which was never something on my radar previously, has crept it at an alarming rate the day after a big sesh, and leaves me not wanting to even leave the house. BritMums in June was a case in point- the lure of the free wine stand (Oh Lindemans, what did you do to me?!) made Friday jovial, but the next day the paranoia and feeling rough made me not want to socialise with anyone, ruined the sessions for me and I legged it home early without saying goodbye to new friends. NOT cool, and so not the sort of person I want to be.

So why blog about this?

I don’t want to get all preachy about losing the booze. Drinking IS fun, otherwise we wouldn’t do it, and I think I will always be wistful about those first couple of drinks in a sunny pub beer garden, surrounded by friends and laughter. I get that most people are perfectly happy with the amount they do or do not imbibe (lucky buggers!). I guess it will help me knuckle down and make a commitment to er, my commitment. I think it will be a challenge, a new adventure, and I do rather enjoy those ;-) By blogging about ditching the booze I may help someone who’s been in a similar situation to me. You don’t have to be pouring voddy on your cornflakes in the morning to realise you and alcohol are no longer a match made in heaven, and this may encourage someone like me to also take the leap into the unknown. I will keep updating regularly about how I’m getting on, and whilst I’m sure I will find it tricky at times, I’m optimistic that for me personally, it will only be a positive thing in my life.

So if you bump into me, please don’t think me boring now- I still like a good time and a night out!  I can still provide a good line in bad jokes and will fire off the Sugar Hill Gang rap on cue. Just make mine a lime and soda (sans the vodka, natch), or a good cuppa (milk, please, no sugar). Your support will be very much appreciated.

Let’s do this!

pic above taken last year, with a glass of wine the size of my head!

 

Teaming up with Let’s Talk Mommy and Share with me!

A Recipe! Roasted Rhubarb

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I absolutely LOVE rhubarb, it’s easily one of my favourite fruits, especially to eat with custard *drool*. I’ve wanted a new rhubarb plant in our garden for a while, and my Mum was given an established one from an acquaintance (cheers, Colin!), along with some actual picked sticks of the good stuff. This roasted rhubarb is delicious with custard (dairy-free in our gaff), or can be added to a top-notch rhubarb and custard cake. Tis super-easy too.

You will need:

  • 400g Rhubarb
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Shallow dish or baking tray, plus foil

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 200c.
  2. Wash the rhubarb and then shake off any excess water.
  3. Trim the ends of each stick, then cut into small pieces, about the length of a finger.
  4. Put the pieces in a baking tray or shallow dish and shake over the caster sugar so it’s well covered. Make sure the rhubarb is sitting in the dish in one layer.
  5. Cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove foil, stir rhubarb with a wooden spoon, re-cover and roast for a further 5 minutes, until tender and syrupy.

Hooking up with Vicki’s Tasty Tuesdays!

30 Day Autumn Re-use and Recycle Wardrobe Challenge -Day 1

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I adore clothes and fashion and like to look good, but these days funds are a little more limited to still be as frivolous with my purchases, and I am the WORST for moaning to Adam “I’ve got nothing to weeeeeear…”. As much as I hate to admit it, I occasionally fall victim of to one of the pitfalls of being a being at home with two tiny children and with no official office to go to: I can’t be always be arsed to ‘put’ an outfit ‘together’. So, I want to snap out of my rut and make the most of what I have. I ALWAYS feel better and have a spring in my step for the day if I know (in my mind) that I look good! So for 30 days, I am going to put together a different outfit every day from my current wardrobe (yikes!), and photograph it. I tried this on my old blog (that died a death, thank god!) for spring/summer dressing, and it worked with varying degrees of success.

The rules are as follows:

1. Wear a different outfit from your current wardrobe, every day, for 30 days.

2. If you buy any new clothes within your 30 days, you are not allowed to wear them for the purpose of this challenge

4. You can wear an item of clothing again within the 30 days i.e. same pair of jeans but with a different top, same top but worn with a skirt instead of trousers, you get the idea…

The point of this?

To remind ourselves that most of us probably DO have a wardrobe full of clothes that we forget about/don’t wear/are bored of, and to make the most of them, and to try and buck the trend for disposable fashion, or at least, buying too much of it.

It will save you money.

It’s better ethically and for the environment.

It means that you may well have some money left over to buy a key few pieces each season- crucial if you are really into your fashion!

I will post weekly showing my outfits for the previous week.

If you want to join in with me, even if it’s not every day, then feel free post your pics on your blog, twitter, FB or Pintrest account, using the hashtag #30daywardrobechallenge and tell me what you’re wearing, and where it’s from.

Looking forward to seeing a few outfits!

So, onto Day 1:

The photos above show a fairly standard day-to-day look of mine- skinnies, trainers and top, jazzed-up slightly with an interesting coat and/or jewelry. Whilst there is nada wrong with this look, it would be good to really get inside my wardrobe again and see if I can mix it up a bit…

Coat – New Look

Tshirt – Primark

Necklace – a present

Skinny Jeans – Topshop

Trainers – Superga

Bag – Marc by Marc Jacobs

Slightly awkward, cheesy grin – Mine, and mine alone